Key Words: Stress, slab, Vrancea, numerical modelling.
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract —We examine the effects of viscous flow, phase transition, and dehydration on the stress field of a relic slab to explain the intermediate-depth seismic activity in the Vrancea region. A 2-D finite-element model of a slab gravitationally sinking in the mantle predicts (1) downward extension in the slab as inferred from the stress axes of earthquakes, (2) the maximum stress occurring in the depth range of 70 km to 160 km, and (3) a very narrow area of the maximum stress. The depth distribution of the annual average seismic energy released in earthquakes has a shape similar to that of the depth distribution of the stress in the slab. Estimations of the cumulative annual seismic moment observed and associated with the volume change due to the basalt-eclogite phase changes in the oceanic slab indicate that a pure phase-transition model cannot solely explain the intermediate-depth earthquakes in the region. We consider that one of the realistic mechanisms for triggering these events in the Vrancea slab can be the dehydration of rocks which makes fluid-assisted faulting possible.
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